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Do Cats Recognize Their Names?

Do cats know their own names?

Cats are fantastic pets. They're funny, fun-loving, and many are snuggly. But most of them have different characteristics than dogs. One way in which they're different is they don't seem to respond to their humans quite the same way as dogs do when they're called.

So, can cats recognize their names?

What the Science Says

A study was done to determine whether cats could recognize their name from among other cats' names in the household and from other similar words. The results showed that cats that live in a home can recognize their name (Atsuko Saito, 2019).

However, what's less clear is whether cats understand that their name identifies them. It's possible they associate the name with certain things instead. For example, if you call your kitty's name routinely and then give a treat, the cat may associate the name with the treat. Or, if you call the name and then take the cat to the vet or trim their claws, they may associate the name with those things.

Training a Cat to Respond to Their Name

You can train your cat to respond a certain way when you call her name. You can do that by using tasty cat treats and practicing routinely. Say the name and reward your cat when she responds, whether she looks at you, swishes her tail, or moves her ear forward. Clicker training can be helpful for this because you can react more swiftly to a positive response. Learn more: "Clicker Training for Cats: An Overview."

Work toward only rewarding when she comes to you. Eventually, you should be able to call and expect her to come, even without receiving a treat. Use verbal praise and petting.

Learn more: "Clicker Training for Cats: Come When Called."


Works Cited

  1. Atsuko Saito, K. S. (2019, April 4). Domestic cats (Felis catus) discriminate their names from other words. Retrieved from nature.com.

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